When “Family Man” was a hit in the spring of 1983, I was 6. Even then, I knew enough about emotions to glean that Daryl Hall was tortured about something, although at the time I probably didn’t know the meaning of the word “tortured”. Three and a half decades later, with a much more complicated understanding of emotions and the help of the internet, I fully understand the meaning behind Mr. Hall’s searing vocals. It also took me some time to realize that “Family Man” was not a Hall & Oates original.
“Family Man” was originally written by Mike Oldfield, of “Tubular Bells” fame. Some of you may recognize “Tubular Bells” as the theme of the movie The Exorcist. Anyway, the O.G. version of “Family Man” was actually recorded by a female vocalist (Maggie Reilly) and released under Oldfield’s name. I discovered this when my then-boss decided to school the young(er) buck (I think I was in my late twenties at the time). He must’ve heard me playing Hall & Oates’ Greatest Hits at my desk and then produced his own copy of Mike Oldfield’s CD, blowing me away with the original. I’m pretty sure I paid him back in spades when I corrected his order on Kanye West’s “The College Dropout” CD and made the company a ton of money.
Anyhow, Daryl more than capably inhabits the role of the titular “family man”, a guy who is tempted by a seductress and realizes he may be in for a lot more than he bargained for. The song rocks harder than anything else from H2O’s imperial period, with staccato guitars that sound as tightly wound as the narrator’s words.
Also, the video has absolutely nothing to do with the song. Whose treatment was this? The lyrics are so ripe for a visual re-enactment.